Well if that’s not a microcosm of the Miami program at the moment, I don’t know what is
Miami came into Thursday night looking to defend their home field and dispatch an ACC Coastal Division foe. Neither of those things happened, however, as the Canes lost a tight battle against the Virginia Cavaliers 30-28.
Early on in the game, Miami was clearly not prepared. Facing a Virginia team that was in the 100s (or lower) in every single defensive category, the Canes could muster absolutely nothing on the scoreboard. Virginia had come in allowing 15 scores in the previous 16 non-kneel down/time wasting drives. Even facing that porous defense, Miami was unable to move the ball or score on the first 5 offensive drives.
Virginia scored a TD on their 2nd offensive drive. RB Wayne Taulapapa punched the ball in from a yard out to cap an 11 play, 80 yard drive for the Cavaliers.
Virginia didn’t have to wait too long to add to their lead. After the teams traded punts, Miami was tackled in the endzone for a safety after having been pinned on the 1 yard line, giving the Cavs a 9-0 lead late in the 1st quarter.
The teams went back and forth with empty drives for a while. Miami ended that run of collective futility when RB Cam’Ron Harris scored from a yard out to end a 5 play 54 yard drive and bring the score to 9-7 Virginia.
Virginia scored a late TD in the 2nd quarter, and bookended that with a FG in the 3rd for a quick 10-0 run to give the Cavs a 19-7 lead. And, at the time, that lead seemed like it was a million points. Miami’s QB Tyler Van Dyke, standing in for an injured D’Eriq King, was struggling mightily and the Canes’ offense was moribund at best.
After lining up to go for it on 4th down then punting after a Virginia timeout, Miami got the break they desperately needed. LB Corey Flagg Jr. intercepted a Virginia pass on the first play of their drive, and gave the Canes life, and the ball deep in Virginia territory. Miami didn’t wait long to cash that turnover in for points, with Van Dyke throwing a touchdown pass to Mike Harley in the corner of the endzone to bring the score to 19-14 Virginia.
Then, heartbreak struck for Miami. Virginia was driving down the field, and QB Brennan Armstrong lobbed a pass toward the end zone. CB Marcus Clarke made a great play on the ball, but the ball riccocheted around and ended up being caught by Virginia’s Dontayvion Wicks for a circus touchdown which is sure to be on every highlight show that covers sports.
An interception-incompletion-touchdown all on one play. pic.twitter.com/VenSKd3Jc3
— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) October 1, 2021
After this incredible (ridiculous) touchdown, Miami continued to fight. After getting a couple first downs, Miami struck paydirt when Cam’Ron Harris found a cutback lane and took the ball 57 yards to the endzone. That score brought Miami within 27-21 and there was still a chance.
After a Virginia FG pushed the lead to 30-21, Miami responded again with another score. Facing a heavy rush on erd down, Tyler Van Dyke scrambled to his right, then took advantage of the green grass ahead of him, butting his head down and cutting back at just the right moment to find the endzone from 24 yards out, and in doing so brought Miami to within 30-28.
Miami needed a stop to get the ball back with a chance to win, and they got that stop. After that, Miami methodically moved the ball down the field, overcoming several personal foul penalties (they were spread out a bit so the impact was mitigated slightly) to get into the red zone.
After failing to gain yards on 1st and 2nd down (and looking to run the clock after forcing Virginia to use all their timeouts, if we’re being honest), Miami centered the ball on 3rd down to set freshman K Andres Borregales up for a 33 yard FG for the win on the last play of the game.
Unfortunately for Miami, Borregales’s kick for glory went awry, hitting the left upright and bounding harmlessly away, ending Miami’s dream of another comeback win, and giving Virginia their first ACC win (in 4 tries) this season.
For his part, Tyler Van Dyke recovered from an atrocious start to finish 15-29 for 203 yards with 1 TD and 0 INTs and the aforementioned 24 yard rushing TD. He has skills and confidence, but the consistency in his performance simply wasn’t where he, or Miami, needed it to be tonight.
For Miami, the rollercoaster 2021 season has come to the bye week with the Canes holding a 2-3 (0-1 ACC) record. For a team with pretty high expectations heading into the year, that’s quite poor.
And for Virginia, they found a way to fix some of their defensive issues and did just enough to emerge victorious for the first time this year against a conference foe. Yeah, that’s gotta sting for Miami, for sure.
The Canes have a bye week to gather themselves before heading to Chapel Hill to face North Carolina on October 16th.